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Giving

That time of year when we think of giving. There is the Thursday in late November when many of us enjoy gathering for a meal, and giving thanks for our family, for our friends, for the blessings in our lives. And then all at once it is December and people are giving gifts for the holidays. Shops are busy, everyone seems to have a list (or two or three), and we think about letting others know how much we care about them by giving a present or a card or a hug filled with best wishes.

Giving can also be giving of one’s time. This is an easy one for me to think on sitting around the quilt frame with the women on Fridays from 10:00am until 3:00pm. They are giving of their time and giving of their skills as they hand stitch quilts that are sold to raise funds for the Historical Village. There are some of these women who have been doing this for decades, and some who just started last month. Each of them gives of their time and talents to support the Historical Village. I don’t know if any of the women would say it is an exciting occupation but it is enjoyable (mostly). There is often laughter, as well as some serious conversations. There is problem-solving such as which design to use on a particular quilt, or how much to charge once a quilt is finished. How can we do a better job advertising the quilts? How much will it cost to get two of the windows in the old schoolhouse repaired?

As the season fills with bright lights, holiday gatherings and joyous songs – perhaps think about what you can give to your community. The Tobacco Valley Board of History will be glad to welcome you as a volunteer – stitching on Fridays, helping with maintenance, or serving on our board. There are many ways to give. Thanks.

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It is fall!

Don’t we all enjoy this time of year? The aspen and larch changing colors. Those chilly mornings when we put on a favorite sweater. Thinking about cooking soup and hearty casseroles. And yes! The quilters are back at it every Friday from 10:00am to 3:00pm at the Historical Village in the old schoolhouse. We always enjoy having visitors so don’t hesitate to stop on by some Friday to visit and see what we are working on. And while you are there – you can also check out our shop. There are all sorts of quilts, casserole carriers, scrubbies, books by Darris Flanagan, catnip mice and lovely potholders. If you aren’t able to stop by the Village on a Friday, you can always order online and we are happy to ship things to you.

Another treat at the schoolhouse on Fridays, is a wonderful select of fabrics and craft supplies we have for sale. Sally has organized it all very well so easy to pick up exactly what you need – whether its extra material for a quilt or a kit to make a Christmas decoration. Needless to say…great prices and all proceeds support the Historical Village.

Do you realize this is our 50th anniversary year? Fifty years of providing a lovely place for people to enjoy walking or having a picnic, and the buildings and archives to preserve our valley’s history. Thanks to those of you who support the Village with donations, purchases, and/or your volunteer efforts.

Nearly Spring

Technically it is Spring but it doesn’t feel quite warm enough just yet, or look quite green enough just yet. Although there are a few hardy crocuses coming up at Sally’s, and the lilacs at the old schoolhouse have tiny buds, I do believe most of us are tired of winter by this point.

But things are shifting into the new season at the Historical Village. The Rendezvous Days celebration is scheduled the end of April which means on April 30th the Historical Village will be filled with vendors and people, the museum buildings will be open, and the Friends of the Library will be having their book sale in the back of the community building there.

The Eureka Montana Quilt Show is set for August 6th – and you know what an amazing event that is as the Historical Village fills up with hundreds of quilts. Even Shakespeare in the Parks is already on our calendar, when they perform “Twelfth Night” on August 18th in the Village.

Of course a lot will surely happen before mid August! The museum officially opens for the summer on May 29th which means every day until September, the buildings will be open at the Historical Village from 1:00 – 5:00pm. Friendly and knowledgeable volunteers will be on hand daily to answer questions, point out things of interest, and suggest places to get a good dinner in town. Oh – and the museum in the Fewkes Store building will have delightful things on sale including pine needle baskets, handmade quilts, books by local authors, postcards, and much more.

We are all looking forward to Spring and spending more time outside. And as we wait for the temperature to go up a bit more, you can stop by the old schoolhouse any Friday until mid May to visit the quilters and see the handmade items for sale. We have some amazing quilts we finished this year that you might just need to purchase for a wedding gift or to spruce up your own home as you get ready for Spring.

Many hands

As with any large endeavor, it takes many hands to do all that needs to get done. And that is certainly the case at the Historical Village. Five acres, eleven buildings, archives to maintain, bills to pay, questions to answer about the Tobacco Valley’s history, funds to raise. And yes, this has all been going on since the mid 1970s!! On a gray early-winter’s day, if you happen to be driving pass the Village, or ambling through on your way to the River Walk, it might look quiet and serene there. It might look like nothing much is happening. But typically, not a day goes by that someone in our community isn’t putting in volunteer time to help maintain this special place.

Robin and Dave keep the Village looking sharp, repairing things that break, gathering up trash, trouble-shooting. That tree limb over the First Cabin is causing a problem with the roof, so they get the tree trimmed, patch the roof. Someone donates a cherry pitter that has been in her family for years. The Tobacco Valley Board of History acquisition committee gets all the information about it’s history, fills in paperwork, takes photos, enters the data into our archival records that are meticulously maintained by Cathy, and then puts the pitter into the museum where it will be on display next summer. Jane, our new treasurer, heard the quilters would dearly love to have a light in the storage closet where fabric is kept. They typically would go in with a flashlight to search for a piece of flannel to make a baby quilt or whatever the latest project was. It happened that Steve, Jane’s husband, is an electrician. The next week when the women arrived to quilt, there was a light with a motion detector in the closet! And a light bright enough that we can all see which boxes contain the baby flannels and which are the cottons with holiday motifs (as it is getting to be that time of year after all). We haven’t even met Steve in person yet, but we certainly appreciate his expertise and, we comment on the light every time we hunt for fabric without a flashlight.

When there are questions about history or someone is looking for a photograph from the early days in the Valley, Darris or Cathryn are always there to help. When our online story opened, Jan and Carmen quickly make dozens of beautiful Christmas ornaments, and scrubbies in a rainbow of colors. Cathryn crafts her priceless pine needle baskets, and Lynda cranks out jars of huckleberry jam (sorry but the jam has already sold out). Sally pieces fabric with her artist’s eye for color that the women quilt and then sell. And yes, those Friday quilters are remarkable, showing up every week in all sorts of weather from September to May, to stitch. We currently have eleven quilters which is very exciting – especially when you see the list of quilts waiting to be done!

Is it even possible to list all the things volunteers do to maintain the Historical Village, as well as when their efforts go beyong the valley? Through a grant from the Montana Historical Foundation, volunteers put together a history trunk filled with treasures about quilting that is lent to schools in Lincoln and Flathead Counties. Fabrics, notions, books, patterns, and ideas for teachers are a wonderful treasure that extends our work to younger people. People in New York, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Washington have over the years come to know the Historical Village and the quilters. We package items they order from our online store to send them. We appreciate hearing their questions about which quilts are for sale. And we always enjoy hearing from them with news from these far-flung places.

The list goes on. There is Bev who keeps the schoolhouse tidy as the quilters tend to have piles on every flat surface, and she manages the museum docents in the summer. There is Michelle who just began quilting on Fridays but already helps with the online store. People donate fabric and items for us to sell. Carmen’s husband, Al, sends treats to the quilters (quilting for five hours takes a lot of energy). Dianne maintains our membership list and leads the annual membership drive which we depend on. Renata makes delicious cakes when there happens to be a quilter’s birthday. And, of course, there are the docents who keep the museum open everyday in the summer.

But please don’t misunderstand! Even though there are so many great people helping, there are still things that need to be done. Old buildings need a lot of TLC – storm windows for the schoolhouse, new footing for the caboose, repairs to the boardwalk are on the To Do list. In the meantime though, be thankful for this wonderful piece of history in our town, the volunteers who maintain it, the donors and members who help us pay the bills. Stop by the schoolhouse any Friday to visit, to buy items from our Christmas bazaar, or to quilt with us. We look forward to seeing you.

The Larch are Golden

And the women are back quilting every Friday at the Historical Village. Not only quilting on Fridays, but also busy making all sorts of lovely items for our online store. Baby quilts, pine needle baskets, catnip mice, scrubbies, potholders, art bags for children, tied quilts and so much more. You can see all of these on the online store here, or stop by the old schoolhouse in the Historical Village any Friday between 10am to 3pm to look over these items.

If you stop by, you not only get to see what is available for sale, but also can admire the two quilts we are currently working on. One is a sampler quilt made by Sally Steward and definitely showcases Sally’s abilities with putting together the perfect colors. The second quilt is one a local woman pieced quite a number of years ago and finally decided to have it hand quilted. It is interesting for those of us sewing on it because we are using black thread on a black background for part of it. Both are a joy to work on. Of course, we are always open to have more people sew. Don’t hesitate to stop by on a Friday to sew with us – novices and experts gladly welcomed.

In case you think it might be grueling to stitch from 10am through to 3pm, please know there is an awful lot more that goes on at the schoolhouse on Fridays. Often there are visitors dropping by to see the schoolhouse, or ask questions about the valley’s history. People also drop things off. Recently Jane Fox donated five Seattle Seahawks face masks for us to sell. Not only a treat to add these items to our store, but to visit with Jane. Some women who quilt bring in things they are working on. Renata and Jan always have lovely things to share with us. We call it ‘show and tell.’ Sally brings things she has made, as well as vegetables and fruit from her garden. Cathryn puts the coffee on around 11:30 (unless there is a call for it earlier). Sometimes we have homemade sweets someone brings for dessert. And all the quilters bring their own bag lunches every Friday which we eat promptly at noon.

So yes, there are enough distractions that no one seems to get tired of sewing and yet, a lot of sewing gets done every Friday. Hope you stop by one of these weeks to visit.

As the leaves turn…

The seasons are shifting. Soon the Historical Village museum will close for the summer. Volunteers will cover the exhibits until next Spring when the museum opens again. But the museum closing for the winter months doesn’t mean there isn’t activity in the Historical Village. As you can imagine, there are plenty of things happening.

On Friday, September 3rd at 10am will be the Board meeting for the Tobacco Valley Board of History in the old schoolhouse. Please feel free to drop by to learn more about what we are doing and/or hear about ways you can help us maintain the Village.

Friday, September 10 from 10am to 3pm is when the quilters meet and will continue to get together every Friday through the winter to hand quilt. It is a wonderful group and open to new people whether you are an experienced quilter or just starting out wanting to learn more. Bring a bag lunch. We have needles and thimbles to loan and, of course, have the coffee pot on. This gathering takes place in the old schoolhouse.

With the museum in the Fewkes Store closing for the season, our online store will open up again. Quilts, pine needle baskets, books about the Tobacco Valley, scrubbies, paintings of the Historical Village and much more are available online. You can pay by credit card and then arrange to pick up your purchases or we can ship them to you if you live out of the area. Just go to our website https://tobaccovalleyhistory.org/ and click on ‘shop’. The online store will open on September 10.

A shout out to all the wonderful volunteers who helped this summer. Docents kept the museum open seven days a week throughout the summer under the superb supervision of Bev and Darris. Robin and his crew made repairs to make sure everything in the Historical Village was in working order. Alice gathered a wonderful group who replaced the screen cages in each of the buildings as well as painted the interior of the old schoolhouse. Thanks to everyone who put in time to keep this very special place in good condition and accessible to the public.

Lilacs are starting to bud

The weather is turning Montana Spring beautiful. The old schoolhouse isn’t as chilly in the mornings now when the women show up to quilt. We have been working on a couple quilts that will probably take us to the end of the season. Both lovely colors and fabrics, both mostly easy to sew, both require a fair amount of stitching. Outside of the schoolhouse, volunteers are starting to work on various projects. Building storm windows, replacing torn screens, rebuilding the back of the caboose, checking the boardwalk for boards that might need to be replaced before too many summer visitors show up.

Rendezvous Days will be coming up on April 24th so that is always an exciting time to be at the Historical Village. The buildings won’t be open this year but there will be many vendors set up, and live music across at Riverside Park. Of course if you ever need to check out what the quilters have available for sale, you can go to our online shop anytime or stop by on Fridays before the middle of May. The quilters will put their needles, thimbles and threads away for the summer then when the old schoolhouse resumes it appearance as part of the museum.

Lots to look forward to so be sure to mark your calendar. The Eureka Montana Quilt Show is all day on August 7th and Shakespeare in the Parks (this year’s play is Cymbeline) is the evening of August 19th.

Moving through February

It might seem like a middle-of-winter and not much is happening time but that is not true at all when it comes to the Historical Village. Despite the very cold temperatures we’ve been having lately in the Tobacco Valley, the women continue to meet every Friday to quilt from 10:00am – 3:00pm. And yes, if you want to join us either as an experienced quilter or as a novice, you are certainly welcome. It has been an interesting season for the quilts we worked on – four tied ones for the staff at Eureka Healthcare, a lovely burgundy and green one Sally pieced which sold to a woman in New York, two art quilts Rita put together for a project on the pandemic, and a beautiful one made with vintage fabrics Kathy Ingram brought in to have quilted.

Besides Friday quilting, members are also constantly adding things to our online store. We decided to keep it open at least until summer so if you are in the market for a baby quilt, books about the Tobacco Valley, bright potholders or scrubbies, hand embroidered tea towels or pillow cases, or even large quilts (either tied or hand stitched), check out our store online. Just go to the Tobacco Valley Board of History website.

And despite the cold temps and gray skies, we are thinking of Spring when more people begin passing through the Historical Village. Thanks to partial support from the Tobacco Valley Community Foundation, we purchased two new picnic tables that will be ready to replace a couple that have seen better days. And now volunteers are working to get storm windows for the old school house building. These will make it so much easier to keep the building warm next winter when the women are quilting. Special thanks to the EMQS Foundation for facilitating that project. And we have an awesome team of new volunteers who will help repair the ceiling in the old church, repair windows in the Baney House, and offered to help repair the boardwalk. Thanks to all of you who stepped up to keep the Historical Village in great shape. In May, it seems the quilters will be featured in a Backroads of Montana episode! This is a wonderful program on Montana PBS. We will certainly get the word out when we know the date and time.

If you want to be part of keeping our community’s heritage alive, don’t hesitate to attend our next board meeting on March 5 at 10:00am in the old school house. We can always use help with a wide range of tasks from social media, to archives, to fundraising.

We call it home

Recently the quilters at the Historical Village got some press. There was a wonderful article in Montana Arts Council’s State of the Arts quarterly newspaper. Locals who saw the articles were thrilled. And even some folks from out of the area read about these hard-working women. There were various follow-up conversations about the quilters and what they do, which got us thinking more seriously about why we are excited for the press, what exactly is our story?

There have been women quilting at the Historical Village since the mid 1970s. It would be hard to imagine how many stitches have been done in that amount of time. Let’s just say countless. Of course, the women enjoy getting together on Fridays to quilt, share ideas and laughter, but they also realize their goal is to preserve the Historical Village. They do this with the money they raise through their quilting, with the information about the valley they share with each other and the visitors who stop by, and with maintenance of all the archives under the care of the Tobacco Valley Board of History.

And this is what they have been guardians of for nearly fifty years. So if you stop by the Historical Village today, you see buildings that have been well maintained. You can ask for photos and we will go through our files to find one that shows Fortine in the early 1900s or the first saw mill in the valley. You can bring your children to the museum in the summer to see examples of things you or your parents or your grandparents used. And recently we updated our collection of over two hundred oral histories (taped interviews and some written transcripts). You can think of us as the Keepers of the Hearth.

But is that our story? Or is that just who we are? The story for us at this moment in time seems to be a mystery – who will continue to keep this hearth burning bright in the future? There is lots of support for our membership drive and we are very appreciative of the money people donate to help the Historical Village with expenses. But there needs to be a treasurer to handle that money, and a secretary to deal with paperwork. Who can arrange for ground maintenance in the summer, shovel snow in the winter or find volunteers for trash pick-up? Are there individuals who want to sit around on Fridays listening to stories so they will be able to pass them on thirty years from now?

If you read our story, it involves searching for clues, talking with a stranger in some dark cafe, tracking down information to solve the mystery of who will be the keepers in the future of this place we call home. Do we follow bread crumbs? Take hints from Lois Lowry’s young adult novel, The Giver? Perhaps find clues in Robert Putnam’s lament about the decline of social capital? Any help to solve this mystery will be greatly appreciated.

Lilacs are blooming

Just enough going on that it made sense to let you know.  First a loud ‘hurrah!!’ for selling our beautiful Piano Keys quilt online.  This is the first time we attempted this sort of sale for one of our own quilts, but as we missed our winter fundraiser (The Wardens concert) apianokeys5nd our May rummage sale, we needed to try something new. We announced the quilt for sale on Facebook to see if it would sell. And it did!  It was an awesome experience as there was so much interest – not only in the Tobacco Valley but across the country.  We are encouraged to try in again, perhaps once a year depending on our quilt production.  Sincere thanks to everyone who showed enthusiasm, asked for photos, expressed interest and – to the fine person who bought it.  The photo shows the women quilting during the winter.  Quite the beauty – measured 100″ x 100″ when done.  Very special thanks to CathrynCathryn (pictured below) who finished quilting it after we stopped meeting as a group in March, and to Lynda who did  all 400″ of binding on it.

And as we move into the summer season at the Historical Village, we are being cautious about keeping our community and our volunteers healthy and safe.  We have currently postponed opening the museum, planning to announce dates in June. So please stay tuned. In the meantime, enjoy the beautiful park down at the Historical Village. Please remember to leave it as tidy as you find it. Thanks.